Orapharm's oral probiotics do wonders for the mouth
Probiotics are the hottest bacteria around. Claiming to help the human body by inhibiting the growth of harmful germs in the gut, probiotics have become as popular as red ginseng, Korea's original health supplement.
Now probiotics makers are trying to sell consumers on the idea that germs can help parts of the body, like skin or the sinuses.
OraPharm was one of the first to promote probiotics' health effects beyond the gut. It was the first company to manufacture and sell oral probiotics – products that help improve the health of a person's mouth – in Korea, which it started in 2017. Its Green Breath, a supplement that contains a probiotic called oraCMU, claims to reduce bad breath, and OraDenti, a product with both oraCMU and oraCMS1, is known to help with dental health. Now, OraPharm has its sights on the global market.
“Our products are proven to be effective in improving bad breath and dental health,” said Yoon Eun-seop, 54, president of OraPharm.
The Joongang Ilbo recently sat down with Yoon at the company’s office in Seongsu-dong, eastern Seoul, for an interview.
Below are edited excerpts.
Q. What are oral probiotics?
A. They are live microorganisms that help improve oral health. There are 700 types of bacteria in a person’s mouth, adding up to almost 10 billion bacteria. There are two kinds of bacteria, beneficial ones and pathogenic ones, and oral probiotics trigger the proliferation of beneficial bacteria.
How harmful are oral pathogens to the human body?
Pathogenic bacteria can spread to other parts of the body via blood vessels, causing various diseases. For instance, people with periodontal diseases are 1.5 to 2.6 times more likely to be diagnosed with cerebrovascular disease. They also have 1.6 times more cases of cerebral apoplexy. Bad dental health could double the risk of dementia, according to a research team led by Ryan Demmer, a professor at University of Minnesota’s Division of Epidemiology and Community Health.
Can oral probiotics help prevent such diseases?
Yes. That’s what gives OraPham the competitive edge. Based on joint research with Kangwon National University, subjects who took our company's oraCMU for eight weeks saw a 58.8 percent decrease in fusobacterium nucleatum – bacteria that cause periodontal diseases – compared to those who didn't. The results were published in BMC Oral Health, an international journal dedicated to dental health.
Does getting rid of pathogens help prevent bad breath?
90 percent of foul breath is caused by bad oral hygiene. Our products are especially effective for the elderly. Based on a study of people over the age of 65, taking a type of oral probiotics for eight weeks decreased bad breath by 43 percent and tongue plaque by 41.8 percent. The ability to neutralize the acidity of saliva, which boosts multiplication of cavity-causing germs, was up 20.3 percent.
Is brushing your teeth or using mouthwash not sufficient?
Brushing your teeth is a good way to remove oral pathogens, but you can only reach certain areas with your toothbrush. Mouthwashes can reach every corner of your mouth, but long-term use of alcohol-based mouthwashes could raise incidences of oral candidiasis and oral caner.
What are your future plans?
OraPharm will release probiotics for children and pets such as cats and dogs. Development of probiotics-infused toothpaste and dog chews is also underway. We are planning to go global, entering overseas markets like the United States and Japan via e-commerce platforms such as Amazon, Amazon Japan and Rakuten. OraPharm’s U.S. office will open sometime in September this year.
BY MOON HEE-CHUL [firstname.lastname@example.org]